Wednesday, October 5

Mexico recovers 16 documents of Hernán Cortés that were going to be auctioned in New York


The box with the documents from the time of Hernán Cortés, already in the custody of the General Archive of the Nation of Mexico. / ef

The papers that reflect decisions adopted by the Extremaduran conqueror were delivered by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office

EFE

A block of 16 historical documents related to the Extremaduran conqueror Hernán Cortés, considered documentary heritage of Mexico and which were identified in auction houses in New York, are already in the custody of the General Archive of the Nation (AGN) of Mexico.

The documents were delivered by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, on September 23, 2021, then on February 4 they were transferred from New York to Mexico City, but it was not until this Saturday that they were placed under shelter of the AGN.

In a statement, the General Archive of the Nation indicated that the documents are part of the block that makes up the Hospital de Jesús fund, which provide “the most remote testimonies that are preserved on the configuration of the new socio-legal order in Mesoamerica after the arrival of the Spaniards.”

This Saturday at the International Airport of Mexico City, conservation specialists and the legal team of the AGN, headed by Marco Palafox, head of the Directorate of Legal and Archival Affairs of the AGN, received the block of 16 documents related to the Extremaduran conqueror born in Medellín (Badajoz), in 1484.

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Palafox, who leads the institution’s strategy for the protection and restitution of the nation’s documentary heritage and the fight against illicit trafficking, said that it would not have been possible to prove the origin of the documents so quickly “if there had not been the collaboration of Dr. María del Carmen Martínez Martínez, professor at the University of Valladolid (Spain)».

Cortes Decisions

The expert is recognized among the academic community for being one of the researchers in the world “with the greatest command of court documents, those that record actions and decisions of Hernán Cortés.”

He recalled that Martínez had the opportunity to make two stays in the AGN of Mexico to consult court documents deposited in the documentary collection ‘Hospital de Jesús’.

The first in 2010 and the second in 2011, thus having the opportunity to photograph a set of documents that he would later identify for sale by various auction houses in New York and for this reason in 2020 he collaborated with the AGN to prove the identity of documents to US authorities.

historical relevance

On the historical relevance, Martínez pointed out that these documents, and in general those that make up the Hospital de Jesús collection, “constitute the oldest testimonies preserved by the Mexican nation on the foundations of the new socio-legal order that was configured in Mesoamerica after the invasion of the Spanish empire.

In addition, they provide testimonies about the alignment of indigenous communities to the new administrative and judicial system established by the Spanish, about the voice they had in the courts and the presence of indigenous voices through their interpreters.

The Mexican Government reported that 39 archaeological assets belonging to the country, including four recently manufactured pieces, and five oil paintings made in the 17th century in New Spain, were returned to the nation.


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